Chronology of Tom Kuhn Yoyos

Chronology of Tom Kuhn Yoyos

1976 - Dr. Tom Kuhn (TK) patented (applied to have patented) the No-Jive 3-in-1 Yoyo.

1977 - TK opened shop (ie, Tom Kuhn Yoyos). He first introduced the simple, one-piece (fixed-axle) “San Francisco Woodies. The first of those Woodies was the Maple Leaf Woodie, followed by the Cliff House and Seal Rocks Woodie, the Fisherman’s Warf Woodie, the Cable Car Woodie, and the Golden Gate Bridge Woodie. Those simple, elegant woodies were produced and sold for several years, and Dr. Kuhn has always viewed the San Fran Woody design as the “No-Jive No. 1.”

Also in 1977, Dr. Kuhn introduced the No-Jive 3-in-1, which he has always considered to be the No-Jive No. 2. That same year, he created the Flying Camel; and the three main Mandalas (Filigree, Snowflake, and Starburst). (I have seen conflicting information, some dating the Camel’s and Mandalas’ releases years later; however, Dr. Kuhn was very clear, and resolute, respecting this information.)

1980 - TK made the famous $10,000 Smithsonian Starburst Mandala. A San Francisco jeweler, Sydney Mobell, encrusted it with jewels. He later donated it to the Smithsonian Museum, where it proudly displays to this day.

1984 - TK released the Olympic No-Jive, and the Aspen No-Jive.

1987 - TK performed on national television (on the Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour) with the Silver Bullet (ie, SB1, which used a wooden axle). Also this year, TK released the 10 Year Anniversary Diamond No-Jive (Maple & Walnut Versions), the Abercrombie No-Jive, and the Neiman Marcus No-Jive.

1989 - TK released the super-scarce Turbo-Yo (predecessor to the SB2), of which only 39 exist.

1990 - TK introduced the SB2 (the predecessor to today’s modern bearing-equipped metal yoyos).

1992 - TK released the Sleep Machine (wooden, butterfly shaped, and bearing-equipped); the Roller Woody (wooden, imperial shaped, bearing-equipped); and the 15th Anniversary No-Jives.

1995 - TK introduced the white Dr. Yo woodies, and a pearl white fixed wooden axle yoyo called the “Pocket Rocket.” (Four years later, the same name would be given to the better-known metal yoyo – see below.)

1997 - TK introduced painted No-Jives, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tom Kuhn Yoyos.

1998 - BC produced the last run of Flying Camels ever made (as of this writing).

1999 - TK released the Pocket Rocket at World’s in Honolulu, HI; Turbo Discs (response system, which made the SB1 and SB2 work really well); and the scarce World’s 1999 Fixed Axle Challenge Sunburst (only 5 are known to exist).

1999-2000 - TK ceased production, & licensed full-scale TK Yoyo production to Brad Countryman (BC). BC had been making some yoyos for TK as far back as the late 1980’s.

2000- TK/BC released the Celtic Mandalas (conceived and commissioned by David Hall – art by Matt Carter, aka Scarecrow, aka Crow), produced circa December (per the records of Matt and Dave).

2001 - TK/BC introduced the RD Series.

2002 - TK/BC introduced laminated No-Jives, and the Quatle Mandala (per designs by Matt Carter; conceived and commissioned by David Hall). (The first No-Jive “laminates” featured natural laminated wood with a deep blue cluster running through it; laminated grey wood with a green and yellow cluster running through it; and the No-Jive Rainbow.) TK/BC released the Tom Cat (first run anodized in tortoiseshell colorway – later in raw aluminum - all Tom Cats were stock equipped with Turbo Discs).

2003 - TK/BC released the 25th Anniv. No-Jive (imperial in natural & butterfly in white), and the Walnut TK-60 (in celebration of Tom’s birthday).

2004 - TK/BC released the limited Big Yo 25th No-Jive (with printing over hex nut), saluting the 25th Anniv. of the 1979 launch of the huge No-Jive (a No-Jive wooden yoyo that weighs 256 pounds, is 50” high and 31.5” wide). BC also produced the Magda 95’er this year.

2005 - TK/BC introduced the bearing-equipped Redline (half silver – half black with the indication of a tachymeter); and a limited Wood Rocks version (half red – half black with “Brush & Yo Daily” gold embossed), to salute Dr. Kuhn’s 35 years of dental practice.

2006 - BC began closing down production of Tom Kuhn yoyos (per a 3-26-2007 post by oldyoyoguy).

2007 - TK/BC produced the Batik (whose art was created by Indonesian artist, Oke Rosgana) conceived and commissioned by David Hall. Hall wanted them made from Mandala bodies. Alas, no Mandala or No-Jive bodies were available. Instead, a new yoyo body was used - one theretofore under development by Dr. Kuhn – the No-Jive 3! And so, through the Batik, the No-Jive 3 was released for the first time. Hall had ordered 100 Batiks. Only 70 were produced (except for 4 prototypes fashioned from Sleep Machine bodies, located by BC and shipped to Dave some five years later). BC stopped making No-Jive yoyos, during this year.

2008 - TK/BC released the Fat Cat, TK’s last truly “new” design for a metal yoyo (as of this writing).

2010 - TK/BC released a solid-wood (rock maple), fixed-axle version of the Wood Rocks yoyo (one commemorating XEKO, and one bearing a Pink Ribbon to raise awareness of breast cancer), TK’s last truly “new” design for a wooden yoyo (as of this writing).

2012 - TK/BC released a run (considered “pre-production” by BC) of the No-Jive No. 3, using Sleep Machine bodies.

I hope you find this chronology concise and helpful. Many thanks to André Boulay, Ed, Dana (Yoyo408), LJ (Vegabomb), Wayne, Matt (Crow), Brad Countryman, Lisa Countryman, David Hall, Steve Brown, Photogeek, and especially to Dr. Tom Kuhn, himself, for the patient conversations, refinements, and insights. I welcome insights from all fellow aficionados - my clever and resourceful friends.



2014 - Silver Bullet 4 goes into preorder.

1 Like

I actually remember when the sleep machine came out. I bought one. Wish I still had it.

The Tom Kuhn chronology is great! A few of the commissioned TK designs along with my first Flying Camel.

I just got my first No Jive, and am loving it. It came without a box, and so I was wondering how you know if a 3-in-1 is SF era versus later?

I found a post on yoyonation that has some info but none of the photos loaded for me:,72717.0.html

All comments and observations welcome — thanks!!


Post a pic or two and I’m sure we can help identify it. :slight_smile:


Cool! Here are some moody shots:

Thanks for taking a look, @edhaponik


Awesome. I like the patina. The darkness of the stamp and the hex nut area suggests late SF (mid-80’s), but the sharpness of the “in” looks more like BC.

If you can take a profile shot from a few feet away (so no distortion of the width) it’ll be easier. :slight_smile:

Here’s a side by side of an 80’s SF and a 90’s BC. 80s on the right, 90s on the left. 80s tend to have a slightly steeper outer profile which makes them “feel” thinner, but they have a more flared opening at the gap (which is why most older players prefer early TK for looping and generally in classic orientation).


Hi @edhaponik:

That is super helpful. Given how many people like to rave about San Francisco era TK versus Aftertimes, I am surprised Google and I couldn’t uncover more description of the differences.

Here’s a profile pic:

I think comparing this to your last picture, I think I was successful in getting an SF-era 3-in-1. I trolled eBay for a while, and looked for the most dingy one with deeper imprints (and crossed my fingers). It came with a very grooved axle that was stuck to the bolt, which itself was stuck to the nuts. Had to destroy the axle to get it off and soak corrosion off one of the hex nuts using vinegar.

Either way I am happy with my new throw and rediscovering the fun you can have with this thingy. Happy to hear any additional thoughts you might have and many thanks again for your kind input!


PS - I think I read somewhere that you are a teacher? I hope you’re staying safe and sane during these crazy pandemic times!

EDIT: Changed back to “successful” because re-reading Ed’s caption, I thought the right one was 90s but in fact it’s the 80s and mine looks like that one, I think, in profile.


Yup. Agree SF for sure based on profile. Looks like a super fun one!
Also thanks. I am a science/engineering teacher at a small independent school. We’ve been back open since August, but so far all is ok. My wife’s a doctor practicing internal med in a local hospital, so I’ll transfer your hopes for safety/sanity her way. :wink: Best wishes right back.